The County of Los Angeles is the most populous in the nation and is also a location where large numbers of children and youth are victimized through commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). Over the last decade, Los Angeles County has devoted significant time, energy, and resources to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth (CSEC/Y).
The County’s work has been driven by survivors—individuals who have lived experience and whose lives are most affected by the changes to policies and practices. Recognizing that no one agency or organization can effectively address this issue alone, the County has fostered collaboration among community organizations and government agencies. Foundational to the County’s strategy have been education and awareness-raising efforts among agency partners, organizations that serve youth (such as schools and foster family agencies), and community members. The County has also been responsive to, and played a role in moving forward, legislative changes. Additionally, the County has designed innovative protocols to identify and support youth as well as provide other targeted activities and educational opportunities.
The County has made tremendous progress over the past decade, learned many lessons along the way, and also recognizes that there is much more work to be done.
Know to Say No to Child Trafficking
Los Angeles County is one of the highest intensity child exploitation areas in the country. Human trafficking is happening everywhere in our communities and does not discriminate against ethnicity, gender, and age, nor does it take into consideration immigration or socioeconomic status. That’s why we’re excited to launch the “Know to Say No”, a campaign that empowers the community through education, awareness, and action. We want you to be informed about the recruitment methods used by exploiters to lure children into human trafficking and the signs that someone may be a victim. By understanding these warning signs, you can take action to help protect vulnerable children and youth in our community.
Building Bridges: How Los Angeles County Came Together to Support Children and Youth Impacted by Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Los Angeles County, in partnership with the National Center for Youth Law, is proud to release a new report, “Building Bridges: How Los Angeles County Came Together to Support Children and Youth Impacted by Commercial Sexual Exploitation.” This report lays out the County’s efforts, highlighting the individual champions who have been instrumental along the way.
Referenced in the report and provided below are Los Angeles County board motions, specialized protocols, educational videos, curricula, research, and additional resources, all focused on one primary goal—more effectively serving and supporting youth both to prevent exploitation from occurring and to intervene effectively, when necessary. The County hopes that this comprehensive report and these accompanying resources will offer ideas, strategies, and hope for other jurisdictions.
Resources and Research
Law Enforcement First Responder Protocol for CSEC
In 2012, Los Angeles County was identified as a major hub for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Adult traffickers were preying upon children, some as young as 10 years old, and forcing them to sell their bodies for money in our local streets night after night. As a result of a history of abuse and neglect prior to their exploitation, many of these children have been involved in the County’s child welfare system.
Despite being victims of exploitation, these children were routinely criminalized for behavior they were forcefully manipulated into by their exploiters. The County’s child-serving agencies, as well as law enforcement, were brought together to create a countywide response and train staff to identify and better serve child victims of sexual exploitation.
With the Los Angeles County Law Enforcement First Responder Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children, we have created a system in which law enforcement officers can identify victims of sexual exploitation and work collaboratively with County agencies and community-based organizations to avoid arrest, keep them safe and provide them with the services they need to escape exploitation. Identifying and engaging youth at this first point of contact will help keep victims of extreme sexual abuse from being criminalized. Together with law enforcement and our non-profit partners, Los Angeles County stands united in saying: “Our children are not for sale.”
For questions or more information, contact:
Department of Children and Family Services